Because this is the column's second anniversary, I wanted to try something different. I asked my two children, Caitlin and Benjamin O'Shaughnessy Bigelow, to share what it's like to have a mom who writes about stuff that most kids couldn't care less about.
For those of you who are curious, Caitlin is finishing up her junior year of high school and Ben is an eighth-grader.
Here's what they had to say:
One of the big benefits to having Lynn O'Shaughnessy as our mom is, of course, that she handles all our finances. We don't have to worry about our money going into hot individual stock picks and we don't have to fret about our mom selecting the wrong mutual funds for our college accounts. Mom has also made sure that our money isn't sunk into the type of investments that would charge you more than you'd pay for a kidney on the black market.
Sometimes our mother's work overlaps into our lives, which can be helpful, but other times it's, well, annoying. About a week ago, for example, Ben came home excited about a stock project that he and his classmates had started at school. The kids each got an imaginary $10,000 to spend on whichever stocks they wanted. At the end of a month, whoever has generated the most earnings will win.
This project collided with our mom's financial beliefs and violated one of her cardinal rules, which she quickly pointed out. "Well, Ben, investing in individual stocks is a complete shot in the dark. If you're picking stocks, you may as well throw darts at a newspaper's stock listings. The results should be about the same." Hey, thanks, Mom!
Living with our mom also means we are survivors of plenty of excruciatingly boring dinner-table conversations. We've heard Mom express her outrage at such dubious investment products as equity index annuities and the financial industry's moral lapses. And apparently there are many.
A conversation that we remember most vividly occurred at the home of Susanna, an old family friend. We were looking forward to an evening full of delicious food, warm company, and an intensely competitive game of hearts. But Mom launched into some extended financial topic, which eventually forced us to zone out. Mercifully, the conversation finally veered in another direction when my mom and Susanna started talking about the latest cartoon contest in The New Yorker, which is my mom's favorite magazine.